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J Leukoc Biol. 2005 Dec;78(6):1192-7. Epub 2005 Oct 4.

Cannabinoid receptors in microglia of the central nervous system: immune functional relevance.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Virginia Commonwealth University, School of Medicine, 1101 E. Marshall Street, Richmond, VA 23298-0678, USA.


Microglia, resident macrophages of the brain, function as immune effector and accessory cells. Paradoxically, they not only play a role in host defense and tissue repair but also have been implicated in a variety of neuropathological processes. Microglia, in addition to exhibiting phenotypic markers for macrophages, express CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors. Recent studies suggest the existence of a third, yet-to-be cloned, non-CB1, non-CB2 cannabinoid receptor. These receptors appear to be functionally relevant within defined windows of microglial activation state and have been implicated as linked to cannabinoid modulation of chemokine and cytokine expression. The recognition that microglia express cannabinoid receptors and that their activation results in modulation of select cellular activities suggests that they may be amenable to therapeutic manipulation for ablating untoward inflammatory responses in the central nervous system.

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